Essential Estate Planning Questions You Should Ask An Attorney

estate planning questions

Deciding to settle your estate is a big decision, and throughout the process, you have to ask yourself a lot of tough questions, including things like:

  • Who will be the executor of my will?
  • Who will be my power of attorney?
  • Who should be the beneficiaries of my will?
  • Who should manage my trust and bank accounts?
  • Which family members should be included in my will?

These questions are just a glimpse of what goes into the basics of estate planning, but with the right attorney planning your estate can be a simple process. It provides you and your family, the peace of mind you need to enjoy the present, and the future. But before you start drawing up documents, it’s important to work with the right estate planning attorney, so you’re sure they can provide you with the right services. During your initial consultation, take a moment to ask these essential estate planning questions before you hire them.

Essential Estate Planning Questions

Before you get started working with an attorney, it’s important to ask the right questions. Not all attorneys specialize in estate planning – your family lawyer might not be all that familiar with a living will, or power of attorney documentation, compared to divorce proceedings and family settlements. So before you make a final decision, ask your attorney the following questions, to make sure they’re able to provide you with the best legal advice possible.

Do you have a focus on estate planning?

Not all lawyers are familiar with estate planning – some attorneys practice family law, adoptive law, or traffic law. At Apple Payne Law, we practice all four, so we would be able to assist you in any of these matters. However, the other lawyer you hired to help you with a speeding ticket three months ago might not be familiar with estate planning. It’s important to make sure that you’re hiring a lawyer who’s very familiar with estate planning documents, can provide you with honest legal advice, and will be able to get the job done within a few weeks, rather than drawing out the process. Not only do the attorneys at Apple Payne Law understand the estate planning process, but they understand the probate process, which means they know how the Clerk of Court and the Courts will review these important documents after you have passed. Knowing the outcome of drafting a document in a particular way can be very helpful for understanding how to draft it properly upfront.

How long does it take to finish an Estate Plan?

If you have a child on the way, or an unexpected illness in the family, there can be a sense of urgency when it comes to planning your estate. Also, these are extremely important legal documents – it makes sense that you want to get everything sorted out in a timely manner. If you need a guaranteed timeline, and an attorney isn’t able to ballpark exactly how long this process is going to take, they might not be the perfect fit for you.

At Apple Payne Law, our individual and joint estate plans have a distinct timeline, so you’ll know when you can expect all of your completed documents. Our typical turnaround time averages 30 days, so if you’re on a deadline, we will get everything taken care of within that time frame. However, there are two important things to remember as you plan your estate: no attorney can do their job properly without the proper information, and complex estate plans take more time. Be sure to communicate with your attorney, and modify your expectations, if you have a more complex plan. Living trusts, personal finance documents, and beneficiary designations might take more time to organize.

We currently offer three estate planning packages, that consist of four essential documents: a will, a living will, a power of attorney, and a healthcare power of attorney. All of these documents will be drawn up, reviewed, and sent to you within the 30-day time frame, unless otherwise specified.

How much is Estate Planning going to cost?

Every attorney is a little different in terms of their pricing – so there is no ‘one price fits all’ when it comes to estate planning. Some lawyers will charge you by the hour, while others will charge an hourly rate. It’s important to hire an attorney that is affordable, but it’s even more important to hire someone who can get the job done in a timely manner.

At Apple Payne Law, we are a ‘flat rate firm’ – meaning we charge an all-in, complete price varying from $750-$1,000 per person, depending on the estate planning package of your choice. For more information, read our complete break down of How Much Does Estate Planning Costs, so you can understand what services you’re actually paying for in an estate plan.

Will you be able to modify my documents later?

If your lawyer is just going to draw up those documents and send you on your way, they might not be the one for you. Things happen over time – maybe you inherit something from a relative, want to set up  a trust for your child, or want to include retirement accounts that you didn’t previously include. Being able to work with the same lawyer in a few months, or years from now, means you don’t have to re-explain or move your files from one place to another.

Final Tips Before You Hire

Before you make a final decision about an estate planning lawyer, remember to work with someone you feel comfortable with from the start. You’re going to be dealing with heavy, personal matters. Working with a lawyer who puts you at ease, and remains transparent with you, is priceless.

If you want to learn more about Apple Payne Law, and our services, just schedule an initial consultation. This 30-minute meeting is completely free, and will provide you with the additional information you need to make the best decision for your family

Author Bio

Ronald D. Payne II
Ronald D. Payne II is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Apple Payne Law, a North Carolina law firm he founded in 2018. With more than 11 years of experience practicing law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including business law, estate planning, family law, probate, and traffic law.

Ronald received his Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being awarded the 2020 Client’s Choice Award by Avvo and multiple Rising Star awards from Super Lawyers.

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